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Sentences (Relative Clauses) 01
The car, which was wrapped in a huge green ribbon, was his birthday present. This sentence contains the subordinate clause "which was wrapped in a huge green ribbon".

Sentences (Relative Clauses) 01

A relative clause is an example of a subordinate clause: "My book, which is lost, contains my homework".

Subordinate clauses provide extra information and contain a subject and a verb. The relative clause will begin with a relative pronoun such as "which", "that" or "who". For example, in the sentence above, the main clause is "My book contains my homework". This can also be thought of as the basic sentence. The relative clause in this example is "which is lost", a clause referring back to the book. By adding the relative clause we now know that the book containing the homework is actually lost.

The order of clauses depends on the emphasis of the sentence. It would be equally possible to write the sentence in this manner: "My book, which contains my homework, is lost". In this case the main clause is "My book is lost", with the relative clause being "which contains my homework". Relative clauses should be marked off with commas.

Phrases, unlike clauses, do not contain a subject and verb, but instead add a cluster of information. In the previous sentence "a cluster of information" is a phrase, rather than a clause.

Test your knowledge of relative clauses with this quiz on the subject.

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1.
Select the correct term for the following.
The electrician, whom they had telephoned, arrived.
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
A relative clause is a type of subordinate clause
2.
Select the correct term for the following.
....... an electrician's toolbox .......
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
A phrase is a group of words. "An electrician's toolbox" is a noun phrase
3.
Select the correct term for the following.
....... the shop's lights .......
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
"The shop's lights" is a noun phrase, or, in other words, a phrase acting as a noun
4.
Select the correct term for the following.
The electrician arrived and he carried his toolbox.
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
A compound sentence is formed when simple sentences have been joined
5.
Select the correct term for the following.
Its lights, which had been working, had broken.
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
A relative clause can begin with 'which' or 'who'
6.
Select the correct term for the following.
....... in his hand .......
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
A phrase is a group of words which fulfil a single grammatical function ("in his hand" is a prepositional phrase)
7.
Select the correct term for the following.
The toolbox, which he carried, was heavy.
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
A complex sentence has two or more clauses
8.
Select the correct term for the following.
He carried a toolbox in his hand.
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
A simple sentence has a subject (he) and a verb (carried). It might also have a direct and/or indirect object ("toolbox" here is a direct object)
9.
Select the correct term for the following.
The shop, which was apparently open, had no lights on.
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
You find relative clauses in complex sentences
10.
Select the correct term for the following.
He carried a toolbox and he mended the shop's lights.
Complex
Compound
Phrase
Simple
When two sentences are joined by words such as "and", "or" or "but", they create a compound sentence

 

Author:  Sue Daish

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